An EY -SWG survey highlights the increase in female distrust compared to a much more positive view among men
There female leadership in companies it is still a chimera. In fact, the gender gap in the world of work remains strong, also because it does not seem to be a priority for Italian companies. So that for almost one in four women, equality in management roles will never be achieved. These are the data collected from an EY – SWG survey entitled ‘Female leadership in the world of work’, carried out on a sample of over 700 interviewees (500 female workers between 30 and 50 years old, 105 female managers/executives/executives/entrepreneurs and 105 men employed as managers/executives/executives/entrepreneurs).
Meanwhile, the facts. At the end of 2022, underlines Stefania Radoccia – EY Italy, Managing Partner Tax & Law, women on company boards have become 43%, but where the disparity is truly evident is at the top: they are only 2% among CEOs and 4% among presidents.
The different perceptions between men and women
The data that emerged from the survey over the last year therefore seems paradoxical the number of male managers who see a female imbalance in management roles in the company has grown from 6% to 25%. Not only that, but for over half of the male interviewees (56%) their company has already adopted a plan for gender equality even if this has never actually been presented to workers. Female managers who say the same are 14%.
Furthermore, male managers who believe there are programs in the company to promote equality are double those of their female counterparts: 58% versus 23%.
The answers given by the interviewees suggest a sort of intolerance towards the pressure to make more inclusive choicesan intolerance that leads men to only formally support the importance of promoting female growth, to belittle the problems and inequalities that women encounter, and finally to overestimate the concrete implementation of internal initiatives to combat the gender gap.
Among women, however, both workers and managers, raises awareness about the issue of gender equalitywhich certainly leads them to evaluate the company situation and the initiatives undertaken internally more critically.
The fact is that in 2023 the number of workers who think that there is a wage gap between men and women in their company, which went from 48% to 55% (+7% compared to 2022), and a gap in career opportunities: 61% (+9% compared to 52% last year).
Above all, 23% of women think that gender balance in top roles will never be achieved (it was 16% last year), while for 68% of male managers this goal is possible within 10 years (it was 38% in 2022). Here too, an important discrepancy in the vision of things between the two sexes is highlighted.
The perception of workers and managers about the situation worsens actions to promote gender equity present in their working context. For the former, there was a decline in all indicators:
• Women and men are treated equally: 58% from 64% in 2022
• Parental leave is favored for men: 46% from 55% in 2022
• The training and professional growth of women is promoted: 45% from 53% in 2022
• Flexibility of hours is guaranteed for the care of children and the elderly: 44% from 47% in 2022
• There is a structure that deals with the inclusion of women: 25% from 30% in 2022
• The company provides care services (e.g. company nurseries, agreements, baby sitting services): 20% from 26% in 2022
Among managers, the proposed indicators are overall upward but the differences between genders are macroscopic:
• Women and men are treated equally: 52% of managers think so (+2% compared to 2022) compared to 81% of males (+5%)
• Flexible hours are guaranteed for the care of children and the elderly: 40% of women (-6% compared to 2022), 76% of men (+15%)
• The training and professional growth of women is promoted: 40% of women (+2% compared to 2022), 74% of men (+17%)
• In all marketing activities, attention is paid to respect for the female figure: 36% of women (+3% compared to 2022), 71% of men (+26%)
• Equality is promoted through community initiatives and advocacy: 28% of women (-2% compared to 2022), 73% of men (+39%)
• Parental leave is favored for men: 35% of women (-6% compared to 2022), 64% of men (+18%)
• Progress made towards achieving gender equality is monitored and made public: 29% of women (+4% compared to 2022), 61% of men (+27%)
• There is a structure that deals with the inclusion of women: 23% of women (-4% compared to 2022), 58% of men (+21%)
• The company provides care services (e.g. company nurseries, agreements, baby sitting services): 21% of women (-4% on 2022), 51% of men (+15%)
But the idea that female leadership is more effective is growing
Yet the idea that has grown in the last year female leadership is more effective in achieving company objectives: +19% among all managers, but the growth is especially among men who mark +34% compared to +4% among women. Just as there is an increasing number of managers (of both sexes) who think that we need to make a commitment to promoting more women into leadership positions but this is not a priority (women 46% compared to 36% in 2022; men 60% compared to 49% in 2022).
Obstacles to female leadership
For female workers and managers, the biggest obstacles to female leadership are difficulty reconciling work and family (86% of the former think so, growing albeit slightly from 84% in 2022, and 88% of the latter, increasing from the previous 80%) and the little space that men leave for women (74% of female workers agree, down very slightly from 75% last year, and 79% of managers, from 76% in 2022). It is interesting to note that for 25% of workers and 26% of managers, the majority of women would not be interested in having a career a priori.
From the survey it then emerges that women do not feel free in the workplace: 59% see the organization of their company as a constraint. In particular, those responsible are seen as an obstacle to freedom and individual fulfillment by approximately one in four workers. Instead, the organization of one’s family life appears to be a factor of freedom (66%) even if the burden of social expectations that still weigh on women weighs heavily (66%).
The setbacks and the possibilities
“Recent years have been marked by major setbacks in terms of gender equality in the world of work: from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to the economic crisis, passing through geopolitical tensions. We are living in a very important historical moment: the achievement of gender equality is among the objectives of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as one of the pillars in the projects of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan”, comments Stefania Radoccia – EY Italy, Managing Partner Tax & Law.
“Something is moving: from EU directive on gender quotas in the boards of directors of listed companies to that on equal pay, passing through the Italian legislation of gender certification. Italian companies must be ready: the valorization of female talents is a key lever for the economy and society more generally, to stimulate innovation and increase resilience. Now more than ever it is necessary to act as an ecosystem and encourage concrete and courageous actions to support and promote women in the world of work”, concludes Radoccia.